Amateur Professionalism

charles leadbeater

Amateur professionalism is a socioeconomic concept that describes a blurring of the distinction between professional and amateur within any endeavour or attainable skill that could be labelled professional, whether it is in the field of writing, computer programming, music, film, etc. The idea is distinct from the sports term ‘pro–am’ (professional–amateur), though related to and ultimately derived from it.

The concept and terms have been used, since 2004, as a descriptor for an emerging sociological and economic trend of ‘people pursuing amateur activities to professional standards,’ as described by Demos, a British think tank, in the 2004 book ‘The Pro-Am Revolution’ co-authored by eclectic writer Charles Leadbeater. Leadbeater has evangelized the idea (in ‘amateur professional’ order this time) by presenting it at TEDGlobal 2005.

Amateur professionalism occurs in populations that have more leisure time and live longer, allowing the pursuit of hobbies and other non-essential interests at a professional or near-professional knowledge- and skill-level. Am-pro fields today increasingly include astronomy, activism, sports equipment (e.g. in surfing and mountain biking), software engineering, education, and music production and distribution.

An example of professional amateurism on a large, and socially and economically notable, scale is the international open source and free software operating system project GNU/Linux which along with its many spinoffs has been developed by paid professionals at companies such as Red Hat, HP, and IBM working generally indistinguishably together with am pro coders.

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